In this study, we explored whether variability in children's physiological reactivity—respiratory sinus arrhythmia and electrodermal activity—predict concurrent and subsequent levels of children's observed help-seeking (HS) from their mothers during a failure task. In addition, we tested whether children's perceptions of maternal positivity pre-task (CPMP) and children's fearful temperament moderate these effects. In a community sample of 101 mother–child dyads, children (8–12 years of age) underwent a repeated failure task while their respiratory sinus arrythmia and electrodermal activity were monitored; their HS behaviors were later coded. Multilevel path analyses indicated that high-fearful children increased their HS at the same time as and following increased physiological reactivity regardless of CPMP pre-task. Low-fearful children showed increases in HS at the same time as and following increased physiological reactivity only when they perceived their mothers’ affect to be positive. This study demonstrates children's individual differences in the physiological underpinning of time-linked HS behaviors.
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- Electrodermal activity
- Mother–child relationship
- Respiratory sinus arrhythmia
- late childhood
- Help-Seeking Behavior
- Mother-Child Relations/psychology
- Child Behavior
- Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia/physiology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology